Forward on reverse: Insights for marketing to maturity: Part I: Unlearn 20th century marketingAtare E. Agbamu, CRMSFHA financing, mortgage insurance premium, refinance
The names mentioned in this article have been changed to
Seven years ago, Michael Loja, his wife Victoria, and their six
children came to America as the lucky winners of a U.S. visa
lottery. They settled in the Twin Cities.
A little over five years ago, the Loja family increased by one,
an enchanting baby girl. A few months after their American daughter
was born, breast cancer snatched Victoria from Michael and their
The Lojas are family friends of ours and last year, Michael
called me up and said that he wanted to buy a home, because living
in an apartment with seven children was creating all sorts of
issues with neighbors and the landlord. Besides, as a single
widower, he wanted to raise his seven children in a more desirable
With the help of my colleagues and an outstanding real estate
agent, we put Michael and his seven children in a home with solid
FHA financing and payments within his means.
Early this year, Michael called to say that he wanted to come
over to our house to show me a letter he received from the
"government" about his mortgage. There was concern in his voice. I
asked him to come over right away.
The brown, official-looking envelope he had with him is probably
familiar to many American homeowners and consumers. Most seasoned
homeowners and consumers would have just torn it up and thrown it
into the garbage as junk mail. But for this gentle, hardworking,
God-fearing recent immigrant and new homeowner, it was novel and a
The letter inside invited him to call a toll free number to
"claim" his mortgage insurance premium because "Congress just
passed a new law that says every FHA borrower should get their
mortgage insurance premium (MIP) back." However, the
official-looking letter continued, Mr. Loja "must call the
toll-free number to get his MIP back."
I told Michael it was a lender's attempt to get him to refinance
unnecessarily. To prove my point, with Michael looking on, I
grabbed our kitchen phone and called the toll-free number. I
pretended I was Michael Loja. Sure enough, the telemarketer on the
other end said I have to "refinance with his company to get the MIP
back." After five minutes or so of mind-games, I announced that I
am a mortgage professional, that Michael Loja is a family friend,
and that they must stop sending him their marketing materials
disguised as official U.S. government letters, or else.
As a seasoned professional, you know what all too often passes
for marketing in our industry. Grab customers' attention by any
means necessary—half-truths, blatant lies, false claims,
hype, spin, sex-appeal, greed-appeal, fear-mongering, "gifts,"
"prizes," "awards," "half prices," "low, low prices,"
"sweepstakes," etc.—and induce them to buy whatever products
or services we are selling.
Every industry in our economy—indeed, the world
economy—follows the same core logic, but with creative
variations. Countless theories, articles and books have been
written to make sense of it. It worked wonders for most of the last
century. It still works sometimes with some consumers in some
segments of the economy. It is the marketing worldview of the 20th
century, or what international marketing expert and co-author of
the groundbreaking book "Ageless Marketing" David B. Wolfe has
called the "20th century marketing paradigm."
In a recent telephone conversation from his Reston, Va. home,
Mr. Wolfe puts it this way: "The 20th century marketing paradigm
centered around Hucksterism: the aggressive, pushing approach in
marketing, which seeks to conquer and overwhelm and manipulate
consumers. Most marketing today still reflects elements of
We've had, of course, Seth Godin with his book, "Permission
Marketing," which has tried to pull us away from that. But for the
most part, marketing still is a prey-and-predator game. That kind
of marketing is out-of-date. It's obsolete. The 21st century
marketing paradigm is about healing. It's about helping consumers
become all they can become. It's helping them get through the
challenges they have in their lives. It's about helping them
process their lives."
In other words, in order to step into the 21st century marketing
classroom (where Mr. Wolfe is a leading thinker and teacher), our
first task is to unlearn Hucksterism in all of its forms. It is not
going to be easy because of our human tendency to resist change,
but it is the prerequisite for marketing in the new century.
In the series I am beginning this month, "Insights for Marketing
to Maturity," I will be sharing with you some of Mr. Wolfe's
radical thinking and insights into what we must call the "21st
century marketing paradigm." His ideas, thinking and marketing
prescriptions will also be featured in my upcoming book on
marketing and originating reverse for mortgage brokers and lenders,
"Forward on Reverse."
Whether you are a forward or reverse mortgage broker or lender,
you will profit handsomely from the revolutionary marketing ideas
that the series will deliver. The customers who made Hucksterism
successful are changing or already have changed. You can see the
future of marketing from the work of David Wolfe.
Meanwhile, after my somewhat heated conversation with the
telemarketer, I tore up the "government" letter and threw it where
belonged. Michael Loja was visibly relieved. He thanked me and went
home to his seven children.
Think reverse, move forward!
Atare Agbamu is the author of Think Reverse! (The
Mortgage Press, 2008) and more than 100 articles on reverse
mortgages. He is a reverse mortgage specialist in Minnesota and an
adviser to older adults, their families, professionals and
institutions across the country. He may be reached by phone at
(612) 203-9434 or e-mail [email protected]
offer comments on his book, visit /www.thinkreverse.com and
click on the Bookfeedback page.